Tooth whitening is a fantastic way to bid farewell to those tooth stains that have been bothering you. Have you ever wondered what happens to those stubborn tooth stains when you opt for tooth whitening? It’s a common question, but many don’t know the science. Tooth whitening can transform your smile, but it’s essential to understand the process.
The Science Behind Tooth Stains
It is helpful to understand how teeth get stained in the first place. Tooth stains typically result from several issues.
For example, your diet can play a large part in the color of your smile. Foods and drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, and dark berries contain pigments that can cling to tooth enamel. Other lifestyle factors can diminish your style as well. Smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to yellow or brown stains on your teeth over time.
As we age, our enamel naturally wears down, revealing the yellowish dentin layer beneath. This can make our teeth appear discolored.
How Tooth Whitening Works
Tooth whitening is like a magic wand that erases those unsightly stains. Most whitening products have bleaching agents. They usually contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These break down the stains into smaller, less visible particles.
When these agents come into contact with your teeth, they release oxygen molecules. This oxygen penetrates the enamel and dentin. As a result, it breaks down the colored molecules responsible for the stains.
As the stains are dissolved, your teeth regain their natural reflective properties, making them appear whiter and brighter.
In-Office vs. At-Home Whitening
Tooth whitening can be done in two primary ways: in-office treatments and at-home kits. In-office whitening is a process done by your dentist. This professional option provides quicker results. A dentist applies a high-concentration whitening gel and often uses a special light or laser to activate it. You can achieve noticeable whitening in a single visit.
At-home kits can be much more convenient. These kits include custom-fitted trays and a lower-concentration whitening gel. You use them at home daily for a few weeks, gradually achieving a brighter smile. While it takes longer, it’s more budget-friendly.
What Happens to Tooth Stains During Whitening
Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter: what happens to tooth stains during whitening?
First, the bleaching agents break down the colored molecules in the stains. This process can take a few days to several weeks, depending on the method you choose. You may see results immediately, or you may see it improve over time.
Some people experience temporary tooth sensitivity during whitening. This is usually due to the penetration of the oxygen into the tooth’s nerve chamber. It’s a sign that the whitening is working. This pain will go away with time. But, you can always ask your dentist for suggestions.
Over the course of treatment, you’ll also notice your teeth becoming progressively whiter. The stains will gradually fade away, revealing a more radiant smile.